Pop vs. Soda vs. Methodology

This map which shows what term people in different parts of the country use to refer to soft drinks is really cool:

That said, while I think it gets at some basic truths in regional variation, e.g., Midwesterners really do mostly use “pop” and Southerners are the ones most like to use “coke” it does not entirely jibe with my experience.  Here’s the methodology:

The primary source of data for this study will be submissions from readers of this web page. Obviously, this may not be a completely random sampling, but since the primary objective of the study is to map the regional distribution and not the population distribution per response, this sample should suffice. Also, since a large percentage of internet users are college students who may use dialects not local to their current place of residence, this survey asks for the respondent’s “home town” and the beverage term used by most of the population there.

Given my experiences, I suspect the survey respondents played up their regional differences.  Whereas people in Wake county, NC or Lubbock county, TX are certainly more likely to use “coke” than the “pop” drinkers of Franklin county, OH, there’s no way it is the majority term as the map indicates.  You can also click through to the data and see that there’s a small N problem for most counties.  Anyway, it’s still cool.

Too hot for Sesame Street

Via Jon Chait, I learn that Sesame Street has deemed the following video too racy for Sesame Street:

To which I have to say…

1) Oh, please.  So some pre-schoolers see a bit of cleavage.  This seems pretty tame to me.  And, heck, I didn’t even realize until my students pointed out to me (yes, that’s what I do with class time) that she’s actually got a figure-skateresque skin-colored sheer on above the cleavage.

2) I already knew this, but damn is that one catchy song.

3) Chait points out that Sesame Street is quite hypocritical about this whole thing.

A little more on “The Pledge”

Yglesias’ post was even better than Ezra Klein’s.  My favorite parts:

what I can glean this morning it does in fact reflect the core elements of today’s conservative agenda—whining about the deficit, deficit-increasing tax cuts, additional whining about the deficit, and deficit-increasing promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act…

Perhaps the most telling thing about where the modern conservative movement is now, however, is their pledge on spending which says that “with common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans, and our troops we will roll back government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels.” Of course once you except Social Security, Medicare, and defense from cuts you’re talking about not touching the government’s three largest programs. So notwithstanding all the rhetorical flourishes throughout the document about small government, liberty, etc. that try to paint a portrait of broadly conflicting philosophical visions about the size and scope of the federal government you actually see a rather narrower difference of priorities. Are they pledging to cut spending while leaving intact programs that support the poorest Americans? No. Are they pledging to cut spending while leaving intact the most effective programs? No.

Instead it’s a plan that says we’ll cut spending on children, the poor, and the next generation’s infrastructure in order to ensure that taxes can be cut on the rich while protecting our own base constituencies—old people, defense contractors, veterans

A vote for Renee Ellmers is a vote for the terrorists

Seriously.  Watch this.

The more Americans make idiot, irrational, fear-driven assertions about Muslims and Islam, the more we provide support for the radical Islamists who claim that America is out to get Islam and disempower the moderates who know better.

The “Pledge to America” (Seriously?)

Seriously, the “Pledge to America” is the best the Republicans could come up with for a positive agenda?  What a morally and intellectually bankrupt political party this has become.  Ohhh, “cut government.”  Wow, that’s a bold, innovative, and clearly well-thought out strategy.   I’ll leave the evisceration to Ezra Klein:

You’re also left with a difficult question: What, exactly, does the Republican Party believe? The document speaks constantly and eloquently of the dangers of debt — but offers a raft of proposals that would sharply increase it. It says, in one paragraph, that the Republican Party will commit itself to “greater liberty” and then, in the next, that it will protect “traditional marriage.” It says that “small business must have certainty that the rules won’t change every few months” and then promises to change all the rules that the Obama administration has passed in recent months. It is a document with a clear theory of what has gone wrong — debt, policy uncertainty, and too much government — and a solid promise to make most of it worse.

Take the deficit. Perhaps the two most consequential policies in the proposal are the full extension of the Bush tax cuts and the full repeal of the health-care law. The first would increase the deficit by more than $4 trillion over the next 10 years, and many trillions of dollars more after that. The second would increase the deficit by more than $100 billion over the next 10 years, and many trillions of dollars more after that. Nothing in the document comes close to paying for these two proposals, and the authors know it: The document never says that the policy proposals it offers will ultimately reduce the deficit.

And again, overwhelming evidence that Republican talk about the debt is nothing but the most craven and manipulative political posturing.

Why health care won’t be repealed

Sure, most of the major benefits of the health care reform don’t kick in yet, but as of today, some important aspects of the legislation kicks in.  And these are changes that people will definitely not want to see repealed by Republicans (not to mention Obama would veto any such thing).  To wit:

On Thursday, the six-month anniversary of the signing of thePatient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a number of its most central consumer protections take effect, just in time for the midterm elections.

Starting now, insurance companies will no longer be permitted to exclude children because of pre-existing health conditions, which the White House said could enable 72,000 uninsured to gain coverage. Insurers also will be prohibited from imposing lifetime limits on benefits.

The law will now forbid insurers to drop sick and costly customers after discovering technical mistakes on applications. It requires that they offer coverage to children under 26 on their parents’ policies.

It establishes a menu of preventive procedures, like colonoscopiesmammograms and immunizations, that must be covered without co-payments. And it allows consumers who join a new plan to keep their own doctors and to appeal insurance company reimbursement decisions to a third party.

Sounds pretty good, huh?  Universal insurance it ain’t, but it is an excellent start on reigning in the worst aspects of our health insurance “system.”

Breaking Bad

I’m taking a break between watching Mad Men seasons 2 and 3 by watching season 1 of AMC’s other acclaimed original series, Breaking Bad.  It’s no Mad Men, but it is a generally entertaining and well-written show.  It’s about a chemistry teacher who turns to making crystal meth.  (It was amazing to learn that the main character was actually Tim Whatley, the dentist, back on Seinfeld).

Anyway, there’s one particular aspect of the writing that really appeals to me.  The main family has a high-school aged son who has cerebral palsy (and is played by an actor with the disease), but this is simply an accepted part of the show.  No special emphasis on their child’s disability.  They’re just a regular family (minus the meth-dealing, of course) that happens to have a child with a disability, just like some families have a child who’s really smart, or a goth, or a serious musician, or whatever.  Just kind of the basic background.  As a family with our own special needs child, I find it so refreshing to have a family with a disabled child presented where this is not the central feature of the family– just part of life.

On a related note, interesting story on NPR the other day, that being born even just a few weeks premature really increases the risk for cerebral palsy.

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